Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou arrives at British Columbia Supreme Court with her security detail for the afternoon session of her extradition hearing, August 4, 2021 in Vancouver, Canada.
Don MacKinnon | AFP | Getty Images
The chief financial officer of Chinese tech firm Huawei will be released and allowed to return to China after reaching an agreement with the U.S. government on fraud charges, prosecutors said Friday in a Brooklyn, New York, federal court.
A U.S. district judge accepted the deferred prosecution agreement, which will last until Dec. 1, 2022. Under the deal, the executive, Meng Wanzhou, affirmed the accuracy of a statement of facts and agreed not to commit other crimes, or risk prosecution.
Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was arrested in Canada in December 2018. The U.S. sought to extradite her on bank and wire fraud charges, claiming she misled a financial institution to violate American sanctions on Iran. The U.S. said Friday it plans to withdraw its extradition request.
Following Meng’s arrest in 2018, Chinese authorities detained Canadian businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig. Beijing has repeatedly denied that the cases are connected to Meng’s, saying they are “entirely different in nature.”
Late Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the two men had been released and were on their way home from China.
Meng pleaded not guilty to the charges on Friday. As part of the agreement, however, she took “responsibility for her principal role in perpetrating a scheme to defraud a global financial institution,” acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Nicole Boeckmann said in a statement.
According to Boeckmann, Meng admitted to making “multiple material misrepresentations” while CFO of Huawei about the company’s business in Iran, in conversations with the senior executive of a financial institution. The government claimed she did this to continue Huawei’s business relationship with the firm.
Boeckmann said the admission confirms the core allegations against Meng. Media reports have linked Hong Kong-based HSBC to the case, though the bank has previously said the U.S. Department of Justice has confirmed it is not under investigation in the case.
Huawei said in a statement, “We look forward to seeing Ms. Meng returning home safely to be reunited with her family. Huawei will continue to defend itself against the allegations in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York.”
A lawyer representing Meng said he was “pleased” with the agreement.
“She has not pleaded guilty and we fully expect the indictment will be dismissed with prejudice after fourteen months,” attorney William W. Taylor III said. “Now, she will be free to return home to be with her family.”
In a Friday evening press conference, Trudeau said Kovrig and Spavor had gone through “an unbelievably difficult ordeal.” In August, China had sentenced Spavor to 11 years in prison on spying charges. Kovrig had not been sentenced before his release.
“For the past 1,000 days they have shown strength, perseverance, resilience and grace and we are all inspired by that,” the Canadian prime minister said.
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— CNBC’s Christine Wang and Daisy Cherry contributed to this report.